Skip to main content

Green Driving

  • Electric


    Avoid gas stations altogether. Electricity is cheap and ubiquitous. EVs are the greenest vehicles you can buy. But limited range means mostly local driving.

  • Hybrid


    Gas-electric hybrids are the most efficient cars that don’t have a plug. There are nearly 40 available models—ranging from compact to full-size SUV.

  • Diesel


    Diesel vehicles have exceptional fuel efficiency and are fun to drive. Today's diesels are much cleaner and quieter than those from previous generations.

  • High MPG Gas

    High MPG Gas

    Great fuel efficiency is possible with conventional gas engines. There's a growing list of reasonably priced models getting 35 mpg or higher.

  • CNG

    Natural Gas

    Research is required to find a local station that pumps CNG (Compressed Natural Gas), and choice of models is limited. But the payoff is low-cost fuel that burns clean.

  • Ethanol


    If you live near an E85 pump, a flex-fuel car utilizes a domestic source of farm-grown fuel.

Green Driving news & articles

Find green cars

Browse by category

Find Parts

Diesel Vehicle Buying Guide

By Brad Berman
Posted on Jan 08, 2015
Diesel Vehicle Buying Guide

Is a Diesel Vehicle Right for You?

Hybrid gas-electric cars are well known as the most fuel-efficient cars on the road.  But there’s a another compelling option that offers nearly as the same fuel economy, with a lot more fun from behind the wheel: diesel.

Diesel vehicles provide greater torque (the force that twists the axle) than conventional cars.  Torque is important for drivers who carry heavy loads or tow trailers—but it’s also the reason that diesel-powered cars are a hoot to drive.  This desire for more pep, along with high fuel economy, is one of the main reasons why some shoppers put diesels above hybrids on their wish list.

Diesel engines tend to last longer than gasoline engines, leading to higher resale values for many diesel-equipped models.

Are There Drawbacks To Consider?

Diesel vehicles carry a stigma—from a bygone era—for belching dirty black plumes of exhaust. Diesels are also known for creating racket, the so-called diesel engine “clatter” or “rattle” that allows you to hear older diesel vehicles coming from a block away.  While diesel engines have become a lot quieter, they are still not nearly as hushed at many luxury cars—and certainly not as quiet as hybrids or electric cars.

Limited choice is also a consideration.  Diesel is the long favored fuel-efficiency strategy for European carmakers, so you’ll mostly see German brands—Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, Mercedes, and Porsche—on the diesel market.  That’s not necessarily a problem, especially considering the strong reputation of those brands for styling and outstanding drive quality.

What Are the Top Models?

Volkswagen Jetta
The Volkswagen Jetta TDI, available as a sedan and wagon, is the most popular diesel-powered passenger car in America.  It’s twenty-five percent more fuel-efficient than gas version.

The BMW X5 is known for its athletic handling  and luxury interior.  It comes standard with all-wheel drive.  The diesel version puts the X5 ahead of its competitors for fuel economy.

Volkswagen Passat
The Passat TDI is the only clean diesel mid-size sedan in the U.S.  It’s also the highest mpg sedan, excluding hybrids and electric cars.

Audi A3
Design of A3 ranks among top premium small cars.  The diesel’s mpg is 30 percent higher than gasoline engine model.

Mercedes GL320
The diesel version of the GL320 lifts highway fuel efficiency to 21 mpg for this full-size three-row SUV.  It’s pricey, but for a luxury buyer, the GL320 can haul family and gear with lots of style and performance.

Where Do I Get Fuel?

The vast majority of gas stations have at least one pump dedicated to diesel fuel. Diesel drivers quickly learn to avoid local stations not offering diesel. 

How Much Does the Fuel Cost?

Gasoline and diesel prices do not move in lockstep.   The prices of these fuels move independently because the process used by refineries to produce gasoline or diesel are affected by seasons and other market factors.  But we can pinpoint specific recent trends, which shows diesel costing about 50 cents more per gallon than gasoline.

It’s important to consider that diesel fuel has more energy content than gasoline, which helps contribute to the higher mpg of an efficient diesel vehicle, compared to gas-powered cars.  In other words, diesel vehicles in the long run cost less to operate per mile than gasoline cars (although they are not as fuel-efficient as hybrids or electric cars.)

Is It Green?

Modern diesels are an environmental tradeoff. While generating fewer greenhouse gas emissions, diesels emit larger amounts of two other pollutants: particulate matter (which is harmful to human health) and oxides of nitrogen (a key ingredient in the formation of urban smog).

Thanks to a combination of cleaner fuel, more advanced engine design, and particulate scrubbers and filters, total emissions from modern clean diesel cars like the Volkswagen Jetta TDI have been cut by more than 90 percent compared to their predecessors. Today, diesels sold on the U.S. are usually cleaner and more fuel-efficient than their gas-powered counterparts.

eBay Green Machines

  • Review: 2015 Audi A3 Sedan TDI – Long Range Luxury

    Review: 2015 Audi A3 Sedan TDI – Long Range Luxury

    Learning from the last time it brought the 5-door A3 to the US, Audi is selling the sedan and the cabriolet versions of the new A3 first to American car buyers who have a strange dislike for hatchbacks and wagons.
  • Review: 2015 Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid

    Review: 2015 Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid

    Global Warming is no laughing matter. Extended seasons, southern snowfalls, odd temperature patterns, the melting of Antarctica’s ice, the Adélie penguin population declining, and sea levels rising are just a few worrisome concerns of the planet heating up.
  • Review: 2015 Zero SR | Zero Motorcycles

    Review: 2015 Zero SR | Zero Motorcycles

    The California-based electric motorcycle company Zero Motorcycles made impressive headlines recently. In 2014, the company finished with record sales and is planning to do it again in 2015. They’ve also released new improvements on their 2015 models. This includes Showa suspension, Bosch anti-lock brakes, Pirelli tires, and a new improved interface. More about the new Zero Motorcycles can be read here.
  • Zero Motorcycles – Breaking Records, Building Better Bikes

    Zero Motorcycles – Breaking Records, Building Better Bikes

    Every day, one can see that times are changing. Real-time communication is becoming easier and more convenient, Google put its first self-driven car on the road, and electric vehicles are gaining in popularity. California-based electric motorcycle company, Zero Motorcycles, is making headway in the North America and European market place. In 2014, the company broke...
  • Review: 2015 BMW i8 Plug-in Hybrid, BMW’s Hipster Hybrid

    Review: 2015 BMW i8 Plug-in Hybrid, BMW’s Hipster Hybrid

    The BMW i8 is a plug-in hybrid built on BMW’s principles of sustainable mobility, but don’t buy the i8 for its zero emissions qualities. Get the i8 because the heart and soul of this leading edge supercar comes from ...
  • Reviewing the 2015 Lexus Hybrids

    Reviewing the 2015 Lexus Hybrids

    Lexus has a reputation for making vehicles that are comfortable, quiet, safe, reliable, but perhaps a bit boring. Although the company is trying to create a more exciting brand image, through such vehicles as the exotic LFA and the new RC coupe, its bread and butter will continue to be more sensible sedans and crossovers for the foreseeable future.
  • All-New Acura NSX is Now a Reality

    All-New Acura NSX is Now a Reality

    After more than three years of development, testing, teasing, and having the entire powertrain was revamped less than two years ago, the all-new Acura NSX made its world debut at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. Not only does the new NSX look stunning, it has the raw power to make it...
  • “Year of Honda” kicks off at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show

    “Year of Honda” kicks off at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show

    Japanese automotive giant Honda isn’t just unveiling new models and concepts at this year’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit—it’s declaring 2015 the “Year of Honda.” The brunt of Honda’s focus at the 2015 NAIAS is on its FCV Concept, which is making its North American debut. Despite having the word “Concept” in...
  • Hyundai Introduces New Sonata Hybrid, and Plug-in Version

    Hyundai Introduces New Sonata Hybrid, and Plug-in Version

    Hyundai unveiled a redesigned version of its Sonata Hybrid sedan today at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The 2016 Sonata Hybrid’s 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine offers a 10 percent jump in fuel economy compared to the outgoing model, which gets 38 mpg. The boost will allow the Sonata Hybrid to compete head-to-head with...
  • Chevrolet Electrifies Crowd with 2016 Volt at NAIAS

    Chevrolet Electrifies Crowd with 2016 Volt at NAIAS

    General Motors today unveiled a new and improved version of Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The redesigned 2016 Volt will travel about 50 miles purely on electricity stored in a new lighter 18.4 kilowatt-hour battery pack.

Green Driving Poll

What alternative fuel are you the most likely to try?